The week is upon us which officially inaugurates the end of the year holiday season in America. It is beneficial to us that this season begins with a time where we place emphasis on gratitude. The historical roots of Thanksgiving in America are a blessing in and of themselves for us to know. It was a time of celebrating a new and monumental work of God in bringing new life, new frontiers and new opportunities to a group of people who would later be known as Americans. The roots of gratitude go deeper than American history however. Gratitude needs an trajectory. When we are grateful, we are always thankful for something and thankful to someone. As followers of Jesus Christ we are aware of the immeasurable grace that we have received from Father and this reality is to serve as the wellspring of our thanksgiving to Him. We are a blessed people and God intends for the awareness of that blessing from Him to produce a life of expressed gratitude in us. When we embrace this lifestyle of being openly thankful, we will stand out in a world which is otherwise full of jaded, unhappy and ungrateful people. Many years ago I came across Isaiah chapter 35 and it expressed in symbolic form the work that God had done in my own heart when He rescued me in the later Summer of 1994. When I want to reconnect with the foundation of my own gratefulness I am often drawn back to this chapter for quiet reflection. Below is a portion of it and I hope that you can picture this renewing work of God taking place in your own heart and life. Notice that it is a spreading work. God’s refreshing power moves from one element to the next until, in the end, you cannot separate the spreading glory of God from that which it touches. This reality makes me very, very thankful today. He is a wonderful Father and today I wish to say to Him, ‘Thank You.’
Happy Thanksgiving to you! – Jeff
Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God. With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”
And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived.
And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there. Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts. There will be no other dangers. Only the redeemed will walk on it. Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
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